Four organizations appeal to AICHR to take some concrete actions including the conduct of consultations with the relevant national authorities in Brunei Darussalam on the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. | Photo taken at the Metro Manila Pride March in 2018.

[Brunei] Joint letter to AICHR: Urgent concern about the 2013 Syariah Penal Code

Four human rights organizations submitted Thursday, 11 April 2019, a joint letter to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) expressing concern about the Brunei Darussalam’s 2013 Syariah Penal Code, provisions of which entered into force on 3 April 2019.

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[Myanmar] 20 expert organizations urge the gov’t to fully guarantee the internationally protected right to freedom of expression in the Constitution

A new parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing Myanmar’s constitution is an opportunity for the government to guarantee the democratic rights to free expression, media freedom, and access to information.

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[Regional] Democracy Consolidation in Asia: ‘Renewing Commitment to Uphold and Promote Democracy Together’

Approximately 60 key democracy advocates from across Asia convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from April 2-3, 2019, at the “Democracy Consolidation in Asia Conference” hosted by the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) and Bersih 2.0 to affirm its commitment to uphold and promote democracy amidst current democracy challenges buffeting the region. 

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[Thailand] Television host, activist face defamation charges over election coverage and comments

Voice TV host Sirote Klampaiboon and civil rights activist Nuttaa Mahattana received summons for defamation charges by the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) on 5 April 2019, according to a report by Prachatai English.

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Rappler CEO Maria Ressa | CMFR File Photo

[Philippines] Ressa’s latest arrest yet another sign of government’s unflagging harassment of media —SEAPA

Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa was arrested Friday morning, 29 March 2019, by Philippine authorities soon after deplaning at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal over a charge of violation of the anti-dummy law. Ressa, along with other Rappler board members, is also facing other charges under the Securities Regulation Code.

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ANFREL released its Interim Report on the Conduct of the 2019 Thai General Election last Tuesday (26 March 2019) in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo credit: ANFREL.

[Thailand] Strong headwinds blew against free expression, media freedom ahead of polls —election observers

Limited public access to critical information. Widespread media self-censorship on pain of incurring the junta’s ire or inviting prosecution. Restricted space for independent political views.The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), which monitored the conduct of last Sunday’s general election in Thailand, noted the grim scenario that had hounded the Thai media as well as the public at large in the lead-up to the much-anticipated political exercise.

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[Thailand] Nation troops to polls as media remain hobbled by repressive laws

In the days leading to Thailand’s first general election after five years of junta’s rule, Thai media have been under pressure from the public to help ensure a free and fair election while having to contend with by newly enforced laws and regulations.

Fearful of breaching the new laws enforced by the military regime, the Thai media have become less intrepid in their reporting, while the electorate is left with inadequate information that they need to make an informed choice.

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From Le Minh The's Facebook

[Vietnam] Facebook posts critical of cybersecurity law land activist two years in jail

Activist Le Minh The was sentenced Wednesday, 20 March 2019, to two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedom rights to infringe upon the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organisations and citizens” under the Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code. This development came about during his trial in southern Can Tho province, according to news reports. 

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Representatives of seven major parties in the Thai general elections participate at the Thai PBS Debate on 15 March 2019.

[Thailand] From Hope to Ballot: The Advance Vote

In a remarkable expression of their faith in democracy, eighty-seven percent of Thai voters registered for advance voting turned out to vote. Advance Voting Day remained peaceful and orderly but punctuated by instances of mismanagement, inconsistencies in the application of electoral rules by polling staff, and complaints of inadequate voter education and information in particular to voters and political parties. While the Advance Voting Day establishes the preparedness of the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), it has provided the Commission an opportunity to immediately take measures to rectify the management issues reported by election stakeholders.

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A story from Jurnalis Perempuan Meliput Indonesia: 50 Kisah di Balik Berita (Women Journalists Cover Indonesia: 50 Stories Behind the News)

[Indonesia] The Power of Compassion in Disaster Reporting

Alongside children, women are especially vulnerable to disasters. This does not mean they are weak. Women are in fact strong given their varied roles, especially in times of calamity.

As a journalist, I make it a priority to focus on these two sectors when covering disasters to shine a light on their plight while showing their fortitude.

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Facebook photo: Bird Sanctuary sues Siem Reap journalist over allegedly false information

[Cambodia] Siem Reap tourism association sues journalist over ‘false information’

A Siem Reap tourism association has filed a court complaint against the publisher of a one-man digital news outlet, claiming it was spreading false information about the Boeng Pearaing bird sanctuary.

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Residents of Cavalima whose land will be used for the Tasi Mane petroleum infrastructure project in Camanasa, Timor-Leste, Jan. 10, 2019 /Credit: Bernardo Da Costa Maia

[Timor-Leste] Voices: Tasi Mane Petroleum Project Brings Concern, Optimism to Southern Coast

In a January 2019 reporting trip, Radio Rakambia discovered that the government has compensated some people while others have not been paid. It hasn’t been indicated where the farmers can move to. The people of Suai have appealed to the government to establish good conditions for resettlement so that they can raise their animals and plant their plants.

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[Regional] Southeast Asia’s draconian cyber laws: In the name of ‘national security’, so say states

Laws regulating how people use the internet must never serve as tools to control and silence critical and independent voices. Yet this is the stark reality in much of Southeast Asia today.

In a region where authoritarianism is on the rise, these laws have conveniently become the state’s weapon to restrict freedoms of expression and information, and penalize dissent.

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